As climate change progresses and water sources diminish across the world, it is important to be aware of drought conditions and to gain better understanding of being prepared for these extreme environments.
The US Drought Monitor is a critical tool in relaying up-to-date information to the public regarding drought conditions across the United States and Puerto Rico. The monitor is hosted by a Nebraska based organization called the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) that is strictly focused educating community and policy makers about the reality of drought.
A brief explanation of defining “drought” coming from the center’s official website:
“Drought is an insidious hazard of nature. It is often referred to as a “creeping phenomenon” and its impacts vary from region to region. Drought can therefore be difficult for people to understand. It is equally difficult to define, because what may be considered a drought in, say, Bali (six days without rain) would certainly not be considered a drought in Libya (annual rainfall less than 180 mm). In the most general sense, drought originates from a deficiency of precipitation over an extended period of time–usually a season or more–resulting in a water shortage for some activity, group, or environmental sector. Its impacts result from the interplay between the natural event (less precipitation than expected) and the demand people place on water supply, and human activities can exacerbate the impacts of drought. Because drought cannot be viewed solely as a physical phenomenon, it is usually defined both conceptually and operationally.”
The US Drought Monitor is a map that is color coded to give a visualization for the intensity levels of drought in the United States. It is updated weekly by various individuals from partner agencies who do significant research in climate change and weather, as well as obtain information from over 270 experts across the country. The monitor is used by policy makers and states to determine where funds should be distributed to stimulate relief.
Readers are highly encouraged to check out the official National Drought Mitigation Center’s website as it contains a significant amount of information in regards to educating society about drought and implementing outreach and preparedness.
Written by Lauren, Geology major and social activist based in Southern California